Friday, April 26, 2019

Octave Notes

Before anything else, again, a Blessed Easter to one and all – here's hoping you've been able to enjoy these easy Octave days, especially all of you who busted your tails to get the rest of us through Holy Week; thanks as ever for your precious work!

It's one of the ironies of ecclesial life that, once the Lord awakens from the tomb, Churchworld needs a recharge – at least in some places, even more than usual this time around. If anything, though, that juxtaposition is a healthy reminder of how far we have to go.

In this scribe's case, this Easter has doubled as the end of a very long and difficult year – one which calling "turbulent" is to put it mildly. To finally have a bit of breathing space to clean up and begin to decompress is a gift, and I need to take advantage of it while it's yet possible.

That said, the gears are still deep at work behind the scenes.... And along those lines, Whispers can report two significant US moves likely to come before the Vatican's summer recess kicks in at June's end.

First, after years of a worsening back condition (exacerbated by three failed surgeries), at the age of 66, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has requested a coadjutor with an eye to his early retirement – and house ops indicate that the process to find a successor-in-waiting for the now million-member fold has entered its final stretch.

(Note to Seatown press: if you try asking the Chancery for comment, you won't get one; as these pages attempted said task before Holy Week – April 9th, to be precise – Whispers' request for an official response remains unanswered... just as most of this crowd blew clear past the first prod in that direction as Palm Sunday began.)

A son of Graceland once fiercely touted by Cardinal Francis George as his preferred heir in Chicago – and in that light, the anointed preacher at the legendary USCCB chief's funeral – Sartain's move to leave office a decade ahead of the legal age comes as a shock in itself. Yet unlike most shipments involving Amazon's home-turf, the Seattle succession isn't assured of Prime delivery – Rome being Rome, quite the opposite. Nonetheless, the package is indeed in the works... and given the history of sudden Vatican interventions on the Space Needle, even if Catholicism in the “Emerald City” is a radically altered entity from its shape in 1986, one can hope that the move ahead will not stoke a similar war.

At the same time, another massively important choice on tap is likewise an unexpected addition to the docket: another coadjutor, here for San Bernardino – the 1.9 million-member church in Southern California's Inland Empire, where Bishop Gerald Barnes reaches the retirement age of 75 in June 2020 and has requested a sped-up transition.

Its Catholic population boomed some eight times over since the diocese's founding 40 years ago – and with growth continuing at a marked clip amid the higher cost of living along the coast – San Bernardino is a notably unique pastoral context: long before the lead writer of the Latin American bishops' 2007 Aparecida Charter came to the papacy, this one SoCal fold had deeply integrated a mission-driven, "grassroots" ecclesiology, which has arguably served as the catalyst for a remarkable degree of consistent vitality.

As for who lands the Inland post, several ops have noted the decade-long trend of Texans being given more California seats than the natives themselves, so that's the going expectation at this point. However, even compared to its immediate surroundings, San Bernardino is sufficiently sui iuris – read: a law (or, in this case, culture) unto itself – that no prior precedent might apply.

Looking more broadly, only after those two can the looming Big Five be broached: while premature chatter's already been running for months over the coming 75th birthdays of the archbishops of Boston, St Louis and Philadelphia – all posts of outsize historic influence – as well as that of the bishop of Brooklyn (the nation's largest non-metropolitan outpost), with the 1.2 million-member archbishopric of Atlanta now added to the mix, the mid-range cycle that'll stretch into next year is set to afford Francis his best shot yet at reshaping the American hierarchy's top rank, its sum total making for a generational wave that even a future pontiff will have a hard time turning back.

But that's long in the future – at this rate, Lord only knows what'll happen tomorrow.

*  *  *
For now, one last bit of news: as first reported in Whispers24/7 Side-Feed late Monday, a letter sent the following day to the priests of Washington confirmed that the 21 May Installation of DC's Seventh Archbishop – now known as "Wiltcoming" – has been moved from the capital's St Matthew's Cathedral to the far more ample Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception due to the intense demand for seats.

Suffice it to say, they wuz warned – if only the brides hadn't been threatened.

Anyways, as that day will bring an epic convergence of history, symbolism and substance, you know these pages will be on hand to cover it....

At least, that's the plan – as camping out on-site for the DC nod already blew a $900 hole in this shop's budget, the usual bills are under significant strain, and no further layout is possible....

At least, not without this readership's support:

As ever, all thanks... and, well, just as you've now seen things you wouldn't anywhere else, when it comes to the 50 Days ahead, all this is barely scratching the surface.

If nothing else, send prayers.